Antczak showcases 40 years of Zweig accomplishments

In honor of 40 years of innovative equine research funded by the Harry M. Zweig Memorial Fund, Dr. Douglas Antczak '69 spoke at the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. annual meeting, held Oct. 13 in Saratoga Springs, New York. The group is a non-profit corporation that seeks to advance Thoroughbred breeding and racing in the state.

“Awards from the Zweig Fund over the past 40 years have been incredibly important to the equine research program at Cornell. Zweig-funded projects have led to several important advances in clinical medicine that are in wide use today in New York and across the entire world,” said Antczak, the Dorothy Havemeyer McConville Professor of Equine Medicine.

Called the “best-kept secret in New York racing” by New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. in the October issue of their magazine, the fund was created in 1979 in honor of Dr. Harry M. Zweig, a distinguished veterinarian, avid Standardbred breeder and a member of the advisory board of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

In his talk, Antczak highlighted many Cornell faculty who have received Zwieg grants to study racing performance; the causes of catastrophic injuries; and diseases such as Lyme, equine parvovirus and hepatitis. Zweig funding has helped in the development of new tests for equine herpesvirus that enable better vaccine timing and the use of stem cells in wound care. Finally, Zweig funding was critically important to the cooperative research of the Horse Genome Project that resulted in the unraveling of the complete genome sequence of the horse.

These grants often act as seed money for new projects and Antczak estimates they have attracted more $20 million in external funding. “Pilot studies supported by the Zweig fund have led to many larger projects funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Department of Agriculture and other national grant-making organizations, thus multiplying the impact of initial Zweig grants,” said Antczak.

Additionally, a new generation of equine clinical scientists have been prepared for independent careers through their participation in Zweig-funded research. Four Zweig-supported professors have been inducted into the Equine Research Hall of Fame and former trainees now run their own labs at Cornell and eight other institutions.

Following the talk, Jonathan Cheetham, Ph.D. '08, associate professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences, gave a presentation on throat grading and fixing respiratory problems. His research has also received funding from the Zweig Memorial Fund.